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Thursday, September 18, 2008

AFP, PNP must secure aid workers in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday called on the Armed Forces and National Police to intensify security measures provided to humanitarian aid workers in Mindanao in the light of the recent abduction incident in Basilan province.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, said the endangerment of aid workers would hamper efforts to deliver the much-needed aid to affected communities in southern Philippines.

"International Humanitarian Law should be strictly adhered to by all parties in this conflict. The government should be alert against other lawless elements which are exploiting the security vacuum created by the protracted conflict with lawless MILF groups," Gordon said in a press statement.

Gordon also expressed serious concern over the apparent failure of law enforcement authorities to determine the whereabouts of two women aid workers still being held by Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Esperanza Hupida and Millet Mendoza were abducted Monday along with their three other colleagues who were earlier released unharmed and without ransom payment.

Hupida is the program director of the Nagdilaab Foundation, while Mendoza was a former staff worker at the Office of Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Military forces on Wednesday said rescue operations have been stopped to pave the way for negotiations in seeking the latest kidnapping incident in southern Philippines.

But Gordon said he received reports that the AFP and PNP remain clueless about the hostage victims' location four days since they were abducted in Basilan.

"All efforts should be exhausted in locating and securing the freedom of these two hostages. But we should act expeditiously and decisively because, needless to say, what is at stake here is the lives of innocent aid workers," Gordon said.

Law enforcement authorities have reportedly suspended all efforts to rescue the two remaining hostages to allow a team led by Spanish priest Fr. Angel Calvo to negotiate with their abductors widely believed to be Abu Sayyaf bandits.

"The government needs all assistance and cooperation available, especially among the people. It should not however renege on its responsibility to provide the safety of all people, including those who are helping people displaced by the protracted conflict in Mindanao," Gordon said. - GMANews.TV

Senator calls on AFP, PNP to secure aid workers in Mindanao
09/18/2008 | 11:16 AM


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